There are three types of adoption: open, semi-open, and closed. At Adoption Choices of Florida, we give you the opportunity to pick whichever one meets your needs best. However, it can be tough to decide. That’s why it’s important to research your options and understand what your needs are.
To help you get started, we have created this resource to tell you about the pros and cons of open adoption.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Open Adoption
Open adoptions are for birth mothers and adoptive families who want to be completely known to each other, versus semi-open where both sides stay in touch through the adoption agency, but generally remain anonymous.
There are positives and negatives of open adoption for both the birth and adoptive parents, as well as the child. Weighing these positives and negatives can be extremely useful in deciding if an open adoption is the right choice for you.
Pros of Open Adoption for the Adoptee
Getting answers – Adoptees often have many questions about their origins and why they were placed for adoption. Being placed through an open adoption means they have the opportunity to ask their birth mother directly, rather than sending questions through the adoption agency. This can give him or her an immense sense of relief and comfort, and dispel feelings of abandonment or unworthiness adoptees often feel.
Sense of identity – Not knowing where they came from or why can often cause adoptees stress. If they know exactly who their birth mother is and how to reach her, they can gain a better sense of self by discussing their biological family, both good and bad. Genetics do play a significant role in our identities, and having our genetic origins be unknown to us can be distressing. Everyone deserves to know where they came from.
Good relationships – Adoptees benefit from having a strong sense of community, and what better place to start than with their family? With an open adoption, adoptees get to feel like they have a bigger family, with more adults in their lives who love and care about them. This can help build a greater sense of stability and stronger bonds between them and their adoptive family too.
Medical information – From a purely practical standpoint, it’s super helpful for adoptees to have easy access to their birth family’s medical history. With an open adoption, it’s relatively easy to obtain this kind of information so they can know what to expect down the road.
Pros of Open Adoption for the Birth Mother
Getting to choose – In an open adoption, the birth mother can choose her baby’s new family. Having that ability gives her a sense of control in a situation where she might otherwise feel a lack of control.
Closure – Knowing the adoptive family directly, and being able to communicate with her child to make sure they’re growing up happy and loved, can bring a sense of closure for the birth mother. It can reaffirm that she made the right choice in giving her child a wonderful new home.
Alleviation of guilt – Placing a child for adoption can cause an immense amount of guilt, especially if the birth mother is under pressure from family or friends. Seeing her child in their adoptive family can provide reassurance that she has no need to feel guilty.
Positive relationship – Being able to stay in touch with her child and their new family can be an incredibly positive and healing experience for a birth mother. In an open adoption, she is able to build a positive relationship with both the adoptive parents and her child, without the issues that caused her to place them for adoption in the first place.
Pros of Open Adoption for the Adoptive Family
Dispelling fear – As with any adoption, there is often the fear that the birth mother may change her mind at some point. With an open adoption, both sides can communicate effectively to limit the risk of this happening.
Specially chosen – Since the birth mother tends to be much more involved in family selection in an open adoption, the adoptive family gets to take home their child knowing they were chosen out of all the others. This makes the adoption feel that much more special and beautiful.
Medical information – Just like the adoptee, the adoptive family will most likely also want medical information at some point so they can stay informed about their child’s needs, both in the present and for the future.
Closure – Being able to speak to the birth mother directly and have open dialogues with her can help many adoptive families feel a sense of closure over the adoption process. This is especially important given how emotional it can be.
Cons of Open Adoption for the Adoptee
Troubled history – Unfortunately, there are often many sad or upsetting reasons for a birth mother to place her child for adoption and, through an open adoption, the child may be exposed to trauma or pain in their birth family. Although there are ways to manage situations that might upset the child, sometimes it is simply unavoidable, due to unique circumstances.
Confusion – Depending on how well boundaries are set and communication is established, adoptees can still experience confusion around the role of their birth mother in their life. This confusion can cause distress, and they may act out if they’re unable to healthfully process their feelings. Yet, it all depends on the individuals involved. It’s hard to know for sure how everyone will handle the adjustment process post placement.
Cons of Open Adoption for the Birth Mother
Lack of closure – Although an open adoption can give some birth mothers a sense of closure, others experience the opposite. Feelings around adoption can be complex or straightforward depending on the individual. Sometimes, a birth mother won’t know how she feels until after the decision has been made.
Lack of anonymity – For anyone who would rather not be known to the adoptee and the adoptive family, an open adoption is probably not the best choice. Anonymity is not an option. So, those who would prefer to protect their privacy and remain unknown, a semi-open or closed adoption might be better.
Too emotional – There are many situations where the circumstances around the pregnancy are simply too painful, and the child may only serve to remind the birth mother of those circumstances. In situations like this, an open adoption may not be the right choice.
Cons of Open Adoption for the Adoptive Family
Prefer anonymity – For many adoptive families, it may be preferable to stay anonymous and avoid the complications that come with an open adoption. However, if the birth mother wants this type of adoption, they have to agree to it if they want to bring their child home. Not having a say in the matter can be uncomfortable and cause strain between the birth mother and the adoptive family.
Lack of closure – Just as with the birth mother, the adoptive family can also feel a lack of closure. After all, every adoptive family is different. What works for one might not work for another. Having the birth mother still present in their new child’s life can make it difficult for some adoptive families to feel as though the adoption process is done and they can move on.
Communication and Boundaries – Communication and establishing boundaries can be challenging in any relationship — more so when there are complex feelings and possible trauma. In an open adoption, if one or both sides are unable to communicate effectively, establishing boundaries can be difficult to impossible. This can, in turn, cause turmoil for the adoptive family and make it harder for the adoptee to settle in.
Is Open Adoption the Right Type of Adoption for You?
When deciding what kind of adoption may be right for you and your child, it’s critically important to know and be honest with yourself about your situation and your needs. Reviewing the pros and cons of open adoption can help you figure out whether it’s the best choice for you specifically, based on your individual life and circumstances. So, be sure to research and learn all you can about this type of adoption to know whether or not it’s the right one for you.
Reach out to us here to schedule an appointment with an adoption specialist. Or, if you’ve been assigned one already, be sure to let them know about your decision. If you still feel unsure, you can still contact us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have. We want to help you make the best decision for you and your baby, so don’t hesitate to reach out!
If you are a pregnant woman in Florida considering adoption, and have any questions or concerns about the adoption process, please don’t hesitate to reach out. For more information on adoption, visit us at Adoption Choices of Florida or call us at: (833) 352-3678
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.